Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lahore-Style Lamb Curry

One of the things that I love most about cooking is the ability to transport someone to places that he or she has not been and may not visit.  It starts with a recipe for a dish from a particular country, region, city or even neighborhood.  After gathering all of the ingredients, the prep work gives hints of far away places.  The smells and tastes begin to carry you to the place.  As the ingredients cook, those smells and tastes intensify, and the travels begin to pick up pace.  Finally, as the food is served and enjoyed, the person can find himself or herself at that place.

Maybe I have watched one too many episodes of No Reservations or Bizarre Foods.  Perhaps it is also my love of food-based tours, such as the one I took in Italy.  The one thing that I am certain of is that there is a level of creativity and imagination with cooking that goes far beyond the plating of a dish. 

For this recipe, I find myself in the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, Lahore.  The recipe is for a Lahore-style lamb curry.  The ingredients that go into this curry are fairly familiar to someone who loves and strives to make curries ... turmeric, coriander, chilies, cloves.  The one thing that I did not expect was the rather thin consistency of the curry.  This was due to the large amount of water used in the recipe.   At least for me, it seems that curries from the subcontinent -- whether Pakistani or Indian (including regional dishes) -- seem to be a little thicker, like a sauce.  The liquid from this lamb curry was more soup-like than sauce-like.  

In the end, I liked this recipe and I would make it again.  I will experiment with this dish to see what I can do to thicken the sauce.  There are a couple of options, such as letting the sauce cook down after the allotted time for cooking the lamb.  Another option may be to cut the amount of diced tomatoes in half and use tomato puree or tomato paste, both of which would thicken the resulting sauce.  I will definitely provide an update to this post (or perhaps write an entirely new post) with the result. 

Recipe from Fearless Kitchen
Serves 4

1 tablespoons of olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 onion sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 green chiles, sliced
1 pound of boneless leg of lamb, cubed
1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1/ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
6 1/4 cups of water
2 ounces of red lentils
14 ounces diced San Marzano tomatoes
Chopped fresh cilantro to taste

1.  Prepare the lentils.  Combine the lentils with 2 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Boil 12-15 minutes or until the water is evaporated.  The lentils should just fall apart for the most part.  Set aside.

2.  Saute the vegetables.  Heat the oil in a medium saute pan.  Add the onion, bay leaf, cloves and pepper, saute until the onion is golden.  Add the garlic and chiles.  Saute for about a minute. 

3.  Saute the lamb.  Add the lamb, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, chipotle powder, ground coriander, cinnamon and salt.  Saute for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

4.  Add the water and simmer.  Add 3 3/4 cups of water to the pan.  Cover with a lid, reduce heat adn simmer until the lamb is tender, about 35-40 minutes. 

5.  Finish the dish.    Add the lentils and tomatoes.  Stir well and make sure the curry is warm throughout.  Transfer to a serving vessel and garnish with cilantro.


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